Scripture Text: Matthew 28: 1-10
After the sabbath, as the first day of the week was dawning, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to see the tomb. And suddenly there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord, descending from heaven, came and rolled back the stone and sat on it. His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow. For fear of him the guards shook and became like dead men. But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples. Suddenly Jesus met them and said, “Greetings!” And they came to him, took hold of his feet, and worshiped him. Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”
At last! The day for which we’ve waited, for which we’ve prepared, for which we’ve hoped is here! Alleluia! Christ is Risen!…Christ is Risen indeed!
Last evening, we had an Easter Vigil at St. Paul’s. I have grown to love that service. I love entering the darkened, bare sanctuary and then being part of lighting it and filling it. It is joyful to see it come alive! As we were setting up, I got to do something that I had never done before. Michael and I unwrapped the brand new Christ candle. We opened the box and then worked together to unwrap it. It was wonderful. Both of us were grinning. It was like bringing new life into the world. You see, the Christ candle is the center of every worship service in that big Gothic sanctuary. We light this brand new, tall Christ candle for the first time on Easter and then it burns down through the year until it is sadly snuffed out for the last time on Maundy Thursday. This one had never been lit, never been a part of the service, never been viewed by any of us. And there is lay on the sacristy table with both of us staring at it. It was as if that acid-free tissue paper that we had peeled away was the rock itself that we rolled away. Christ is risen! Let the light of Christ illumine all!
And so this day, we light the brand new Christ candle and we joyously celebrate Christ’s Resurrection. We finally get to sing “Alleluia” again after so many weeks of quiet and darkness. But what is it we’re celebrating? Are we glad that Christ’s death was not permanent? Well, of course we are. But if Easter is only about Christ’s Resurrection, then the whole thing would have been for naught. You know, it’s weird. We struggle all through Lent to let go of ourselves, to surrender. The reason we do that is because God has something else in store for us. It’s called resurrection–no just Christ’s, but our own! The whole purpose of Christ’s Resurrection was to unveil our eternity, to show us what was coming for us, to lay the groundwork for not Christ’s raising, but our own. So, do you believe that? You say you believe that Christ was raised. Why would the Resurrection even happen if God was not trying to show us our own. This is the Easter lesson. Jesus came and walked this earth as God-With-Us, Emmanuel, to lead us into communion with God, to show us eternity. Hmmm! Maybe it IS about us! But if it is, what do you plan to do with it? What does it mean to celebrate not only Jesus’ Resurrection but our own? What does it mean for God to love you so much that God would recreate your life? So if your life is worth that much to God, what are you planning to do with it? Go now, roll the stone away…and reveal what God has planned for you! Alleluia!
So, on this day when we celebrate the Risen Christ, celebrate also the story of your own resurrection!
Christ is Risen! Alleluia! You are risen! Alleluia!
Grace and Peace,
NOTE: The “whole” Holy Week poem is on a page on my blog under “Other Stuff”.